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Cooch Behar to be under ECI scanner in first phase of LS polls in Bengal

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Kolkata, April 16 (IANS) Because of its history of poll-related violence, Cooch Behar, one of the three Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal that will be going to polls in the first phase on April 19, will be under the scanner of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

How seriously the ECI is taking the affairs in Cooch Behar is evident from the fact that Anil Kumar Sharma, the Special Police Observer for the polls in West Bengal, will reach Cooch Behar on Tuesday.

He will be there till the end of the election on April 19, supervising the entire security arrangements.

Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CE0), West Bengal said that in the next two days Anil Kumar Sharma will supervise the security arrangements at all the sensitive booths in the constituency.

“He will monitor the entire process and will be stationed at Cooch Behar only,” said a CEO office insider.

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In the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls Sitalkuchi, one of the seven Assembly constituencies under this Lok Sabha seat, witnessed major poll-related clashes, following which the CAPF personnel had to resort to firing in which four persons were killed.

As per the ECI’s records, 85 per cent of the polling booths in Cooch Behar District are sensitive. That is precisely why maximum deployment of CAPF has been done in Cooch Behar at 112 companies.

The other two constituencies, namely Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar, which are also going for polls in the first phase, will have CAPF deployments of 75 and 63 companies respectively.

–IANS

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Now, a 3-day 'Dharavi Premier League' cricket tourney to kickstart on May 31

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The Dharavi Redevelopment Project Pvt Ltd (DRPPL), a joint venture of Maharashtra Government and Adani Group, will unveil the first three-day cricket tournament, Dharavi Premier League (DPL) to salute the spirit of over one million souls residing in Asia’s largest informal settlement, as per an official statement here on Thursday.

The tourney will be divided into six phases, with the first featuring 14 teams and over 200 players from Sector 1 of Dharavi, which is the largest geographically and population-wise, covering areas of Matunga Labour Camp, Shahu Nagar, Sat Chawl, Valmiki Nagar and Kamala Nagar.

The matches will be played in a 10-over format on a knockout basis at the RPF Grounds in Dharavi under floodlights and shall be governed by the ICC rulebook for T20 cricket, including a third umpire and an equal number of referrals available to both competing teams, on the lines of the professional matches.

The 14 teams from Sector 1 are: Thunder Boltz, Strikers, Valmiki Giants, Team Spirit, Vicky Panthers, Matunga Warriors, Young Boyz, Shahunagar Singhams, Hibah Ke Fighters, Meghdoot Blasters, Ashtavinayak Squad, Morya Boyz, Samrat and Lions Cricket Club.

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The match, with replays, including decisions referred to the third umpire, will be broadcast live on big LED screens and on DPL’s YouTube handle @dharavipremierleague.

The DPL is being organised by the people of Dharavi, who will also provide in-match entertainment, music and food.

Apart from the players, the match referees, umpires, and groundsmen are all residents of Dharavi.

There will be cash prizes for the lucky winners and runners-up, and categories like the man of the match and the player of the series, besides spot prizes for the viewers who come to cheer their favourite teams.

–IANS

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Minister admits NCP MLA rooted for reinstating tainted doctor as Sassoon Hospital MS

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Pune, May 30 (IANS) Maharashtra Medical Education Minister Hasan Mushrif has admitted that a ruling MahaYuti ally Nationalist Congress Party had recommended the reinstatement of the tainted medico, Ajay Taware – now arrested and suspended – to the coveted post of Medical Superintendent (MS) in Sassoon General Hospital, here on Thursday.

The recommendation was made by MLA Sunil Tingre, and a letter purportedly penned by him had gone viral on social media last week, though the legislator had vehemently denied the development.

Mushrif said that Tingre had written the recommendation letter around December 2023 which he (as Minister) had endorsed for further action to the concerned hospital authorities.

When questioned over this, Mushrif pointed a finger at the hospital Dean Vinayak Kale – currently sent on compulsory leave – asking why he failed to oppose the name of Taware.

“If he (Kale) did not consider Taware to be a suitable candidate for the MS post, then why did he not clearly inform the government about it,” Mushrif shot back, as fresh developments continued to crop up almost daily since the May 19 Porsche crash.

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On May 29, Kale hinted at the involvement of the legislator and the minister in the return of Taware as the MS despite his questionable professional record at the hospital.

Incidentally, Tingre is under a cloud for attempting to use his political clout and misguide the police investigations, and the Opposition parties have questioned whether the legislator’s son was also in the Porsche along with the builder’s minor son.

Targetting the government, Congress’ Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Vijay Wadettiwar has alleged that a “top person” in the regime was reportedly shielding the officials and the murky goings-on at the Sassoon General Hospital and would reveal the names later.

As the Sassoon General Hospital is caught in the eye of the Porsche crash storm, the axe is falling on several officials with the Dean eased out on compulsory leave and replaced by Chandrakant Mhaske.

Two senior medicos Ajay Taware and Shrihar Halnor plus a peon Atul Ghatkamble were arrested and suspended, and they shall be produced before a Pune Court later in the day for extension of their custody.

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The police have also questioned over two dozen other staffers of the hospital including medicos, nurses, administrative and medical employees for the probe.

–IANS

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Outlook for Indian economy bright, 7 pc growth likely in 2024-25: RBI

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) The outlook for the Indian economy remains bright with the GDP growth likely to be at a robust 7 per cent in 2024-25, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its annual report released on Thursday.

Against the backdrop of subdued global economic activity and multiple headwinds, the Indian economy expanded at a robust pace in 2023-24, with real GDP growth accelerating to 7.6 per cent from 7.0 per cent in the previous year – the third successive year of 7 per cent or above growth, the report pointed out.

The sustained strengthening of macroeconomic fundamentals, robust financial and corporate sectors and a resilient external sector are expected to drive growth in 2024-25, the report stated.

The government’s continued thrust on capex while pursuing fiscal consolidation, and consumer and business optimism augur well for investment and consumption demand, it added.

According to the report, the prospects for agriculture and rural activity appear favourable due to the ebbing El Nino and the expected above-normal southwest monsoon.

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The extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) scheme for a period of five more years with effect from January 1, 2024 will strengthen national food security.

The government’s focus on AatmaNirbhar Oilseeds Abhiyan, the expansion of environmentally sustainable nano diammonium phosphate (DAP) in all agro-climatic zones and the promotion of bioeconomy through a new bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry scheme in the interim Union Budget 2024-25 would also support the agriculture sector.

The Union government’s impetus to growth-inducing capital spending is likely to be sustained in 2024-25 with more than half of borrowings directed towards financing of capital outlay.

The central government extended the financial assistance scheme for states’ capital expenditure to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 1.3 lakh crore. The budgeted reduction in gross market borrowings from 5.3 per cent of GDP in 2023-24 (RE) to 4.3 per cent of GDP in 2024-25 (BE) will enhance the flow of funds to the private sector and support private investment.

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The fiscal outlook for states remains favourable, with adequate fiscal room to pursue increased capital expenditure. The digitalisation of the tax system has enhanced tax collections, with the Centre’s direct tax revenues budgeted to reach 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2024-25, the highest in three decades, it adds.

–IANS

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Ahead of PM Modi's Kanyakumari trip, his 33-year-old picture from Rock Memorial surfaces

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to mark the end of a hectic poll campaign and head to Kanyakumari on Thursday, for a two-day meditation at the iconic Vivekananda Rock Memorial.

Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to down south, his 33-year-old pictures from the iconic spot surfaced on social media on Thursday and took the netizens by storm.

The pictures dated December 11, 1991, are from Ekta Yatra that commenced from the iconic Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari and ended in Kashmir. In the viral pictures, all the ‘Ekta Yatris’ including Narendra Modi and party veteran Dr Murli Manohar Joshi can be seen circumambulating the statue of Swami Vivekananda to pay their respects.

Notably, the Ekta Yatra, also termed as the Unity March was launched in December 1991 from Kanyakumari and culminated on January 26, 1992, with the hoisting of the national flag in Srinagar.

The Ekta Yatra was led by veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi while Narendra Modi, then a BJP worker, served as a key pivot in organising the march.

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The goal of the Yatra was to send a strong message to the world that India would stand firm and united against the forces of terror. The journey spanning 14 states resonated deeply with the people and showed the country’s unwavering commitment to national unity.

Starting from May 30-June 1, PM Modi is set to undertake 48-hour meditation at Dhyan Mandapam, the spot where Swami Vivekananda meditated in 1892. The Rock Memorial monument was built to pay tribute to the Hindu philosopher-saint.

It is said that Swami Vivekananda after wandering across the country meditated here for three days and attained a vision for a developed India.

PM Modi had undertaken a similar spiritual journey after the culmination of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. His visit to Uttarakhand after the high-octane campaign and meditation inside a cave near the Kedarnath shrine drew global headlines.

–IANS

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Rajkot fire tragedy: 27 victims identified through DNA tests

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Rajkot, May 30 (IANS) In the aftermath of the fire incident at the TRP Game Zone in Rajkot, authorities have identified 27 victims through DNA matching.

Since the bodies were charred beyond recognition, the state government had to take the help of a forensic science lab to identify the victims through DNA profiling.

Officials said, “For those whose family members were missing, disaster management and police teams compiled lists at the incident site. Throughout the night of May 25, as bodies were recovered, they were taken to the Civil Hospital for postmortem and DNA sampling. Samples from the victims and their families were sent to FSL Gandhinagar via air ambulance for matching. Due to multiple family members reporting the same missing individuals, there were initially duplicate or similar names. After verification, the final list of deceased victims was compiled, confirming the deaths of 27 individuals, whose bodies were handed over to their next of kin.”

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The officials said that misleading information about burn victims being treated or deceased in private hospitals was debunked through statements from hospital authorities and videos released on social media.

“A complaint by Hiteshbhai alias Vijaybhai Labhshankar Pandya about his nephew and two other children being missing was found to be false, resulting in an FIR against him under IPC Section 211,” said the officials.

Each victim was assigned a Deputy Mamlatdar and a PSI to assist their families from the moment the bodies were handed over until the final rites, and to complete the process for CM Relief Fund and PM Relief Fund assistance, the officials added.

“FSL teams worked round the clock to match the DNA samples of the deceased with their families. Currently, there are no pending complaints from any family regarding missing members, and all 27 bodies have been handed over to their families,” the officials said, adding that they have designated contact points and phone numbers if any individual is still missing after the fire incident.

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In case of missing members, the families have urged to contact the Rajkot City Police Commissioner at 83209 65606 or 281 245 7777 or the SIT Chairperson Bharat B. Basiya, Assistant Police Commissioner, Crime, Rajkot City, at 90336 90990.

“Other contacts include SIT member M.R. Gondaliya, Police Inspector, DCB Police Station at 96876 54989, S.M. Jadhja, Police Inspector, B Division Police Station at 97149 00997, R.H. Zala, Police Sub-Inspector, LCB Zone-2 at 98258 55350, D.C. Sakariya, Police Sub-Inspector, DCB Police Station at 80000 40050, DCB Police Station at 0281 2444165, Rajkot Taluka Police Station at 0281 2563340, and the Rajkot City Police Control Room at 0281 2457777 (100),” said the officials.

–IANS

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